Thursday, September 23, 2010

UN-panel: Israeli raid on Gaza Flotilla violated international law

A report by three U.N.-appointed human rights experts Wednesday said that Israeli forces violated international law when they raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla killing nine activists earlier this year.The U.N. Human Rights Council's fact-finding mission concluded that Israel's naval blockade of the Palestinian territory was unlawful because of the humanitarian crisis there.
The Human Rights Council's report was compiled by former U.N. war crimes prosecutor Desmond de Silva, Trinidadian judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips and Malaysian women's rights advocate Mary Shanthi Dairiam. It is scheduled to be debated in the council on Monday.
The 56-page document lists a series of alleged crimes committed by Israeli forces during and after the raid. The panel concluded that a humanitarian crisis existed in Gaza on the day of the incident in Gaza and "for this reason alone the blockade is unlawful and cannot be sustained in law."
"The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel toward the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality," the report said. It described the Israeli raid on May 31, in which eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American aboard the Mavi Marmara were shot and killed, as "clearly unlawful.
"The raid sparked an international outcry and forced Israel to ease its blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza. Israel, along with Egypt, imposed in June 2007 after Hamas militants took control of the area.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded late Wednesday by saying the Human Rights Council had a 'biased, politicized and extremist approach'.Israel has instead been working with a separate U.N. group under New Zealand's former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and Colombia's former President Alvaro Uribe that is also examining the incident but has yet to publish its findings."Israel is a democratic and law abiding country that carefully observes international law and, when need be, knows how to investigate itself,' the Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website.
Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas  said the report emphasized that Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories violates human rights. He addad that it is necessary 'to translate this report into action and to bring the occupation commanders to trial for the crimes they committed.'.

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